East Washington Baptist Says, “Yes We Can!”

Rev. Dr. Kip Bernard Banks, Sr. - Senior Pastor of the East Washington Heights Baptist Church and Leader of the "Yes We Can" Service Program.

“If we can teach our youth to respect the elderly, it would be good,” observed Senior Pastor Dr. Kip Bernard Banks of the East Washington Heights Baptist Church (EWHBC) at 2220 Branch Ave. SE. “If we can teach them basic manners and how to be of good service and contribute [to society], it would bring about a positive change.”

“The church cannot be so heavenly minded as to be no earthly good,” Pastor Banks said, saying it must teach and train, not just complain. “We have to take an active role with our children in the community,” he said. The church has created the “Yes We Can” (YWC) program to do just that.

Students raking leaves and disposing of trash and debris in the Bellevue neighborhood in southwest

Through YWC, students from Anacostia Senior Highschool, Frank W. Ballou Senior Highschool and Bard High School Early College DC obtain service hours mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow and cleaning up trash for local seniors. After completing an assignment, which typically lasts two to three hours, they return to the church for lunch and enrichment exercises. These include resume writing, financial literacy, etiquette lessons, college preparedness and health classes. The students also are paid a $40 stipend.

“It’s great! It’s fantastic!” said senior Carroll Dyson when asked to describe the program and the services offered by the youth. “It is good because the five kids are very well-mannered. They do an excellent job in my yard,” said the 81-year-old retired educator who resides in Bellevue. “My neighbors are pleased with them too. They really save seniors like me a lot of work and I am grateful to them for raking my leaves, trimming my bushes, and all the planting they do.”

“I think it is a good program and convenient for us to receive community service hours,” said 15-year-old Nia Arrington who lives across the street from the church in Hillcrest. The ninth grader at Bard High School Early College DC started YWC in December 2022. She appreciates making a little money for participating and wishes the program was more extensive. “They bring us breakfast and lunch and we don’t have to go too far for the community service,” said Arrington.

YWC is funded through church donations and grants from the DC Baptist Convention Foundation and the Wesley Theological Seminary.

Rev. Banks hopes that the YWC will eventually become self-sufficient and not rely on outside grants. The program’s greatest need, aside securing additional funding, is for additional volunteer chaperones. Those interested in volunteering or supporting YWC financially call 202-582-4811 or email ewhbc@aol.com.